Carry On

Disclaimer: This story has been written for pleasure only, and not for profit. I do not own any of Tolkien's characters.

A/N- This fan fic was written in response to a picture challenge on another site and is based on movie verse. I have made some grammatical corrections from the orginal version. The description of the picture is in the second paragraph. I have tried to stay as true to the film as possible and have only altered some areas where I felt it was necessary to enhance the tale. The inspiration for this story comes from Tolkien's trilogy, the movies based on the trilogy, and from my own recent personal experience. I hope you enjoy it. :)

The impenetrable barrier of the Deeping Wall loomed before them and above it the Hornburg glared down offering challenge to any outlander not deemed worthy to enter within its walls. Legolas drew Arod to a brisk halt as the surviving contingent of Rohirrim riders proceeded onward toward the gate. His companion behind him upon the steed noticed his hesitation immediately and spoke out. "He'd want us to carry on, laddy." But his words fell unheeded around him, muffled by the beat of pounding hooves upon the hardened turf below, and the Sylvan elf took no notice.

Stretching his arms out to his sides, his bow now clutched but still in his right hand, he closed his eyes to the movement surrounding him, blocking out its clamor while his mind and senses searched outward. Surely he would feel something, anything, anything but this deep and aching emptiness that now filled his soul. Was this what death was like? This nothingness, this numbness? Surely he should feel something, and his mind cried out beckoning for some sort of supplication though receiving none.

The dwarf behind him felt him stiffen with deliberation and offered consolation once more. "He'd not want us to mourn for him." Gimli spoke though the catch in his voice belied the intended meaning of his words.

"No, he wouldn't." His companion acknowledged woodenly, drawing his arms back toward him as he repositioned his bow before grasping the reins and spurring Arod onward. He caught up to their complement again and once through the castle gate, he drew their steed to a quick halt, and dismounted, reaching up to offer assistance to his stocky friend. Gimli brushed his overture aside mumbling to himself that it would be a fine day indeed or he'd have to be greatly infirm before he'd gladly accept the hand of another while dismounting from a horse. His words only caught in his throat once more as his eyes glanced down toward those of the invulnerable creature below him. The blue gray eyes that stared back at him held a profound sense of bewilderment, and Gimli wanted to speak up. He wanted to offer comfort to his companion, but he himself was at a loss for words; Aragorn's death being so new and fresh in his mind. He had no assurances of consolation to offer Legolas which made his heart all the more heavier. Making his way ungainly down from the horse, his feet finally touched ground, and he hurried after his friend.

A swarm of activity surrounded the two as the injured were being carried forward, and many a reconciliation between awaiting kin within the walls was made. It was through this pandemonium that the elf caught sight of one, the fair-haired Eowyn, poised and searching through the throng surrounding her. Her eyes seeking out one in particular, and Legolas knew of whom she sought. Unable to meet her, he drew Arod to the side in search of a paddock in which to stable the horse temporarily, leaving Gimli behind. Her first words upon meeting up with the dwarf drifted toward him, reaching his keen ears and with them spoke the name of the one now lost. He could not bear to talk of Aragorn now, not here, not with her, not with Gimli, not with anyone, and he moved onward like a haunted specter bound to an earthly life until his sentence had been served.

Mindlessly he found some boarding for Arod before he ventured out once more toward the crowd, the milling commotion assaulting his senses, and he turned quickly away from it in search of quiet and refuge. His line of vision caught sight of a stair and pushing his way toward it he began its ascension, each step taking him further and further away from the hectic din below.

Upon completion he found himself looking out over the Deeping Wall to a stream below. Its waters clear and sparkling in ceaseless flow. The movement brought to mind how parched he now felt and reaching toward his water sac he drew it to his lips, its contents momentarily refreshing. Replacing it, he stared out once again, this time toward the coomb, his keen eyes taking in its rolling brown grasses and hilly landscapes until they reached the base of the mountains in the distance. Scanning the majestic peaks, his mind went over what distance they had covered thus far and how far they had yet to go. Leaving the rise, his eyes retraced their path until they reached the stream and its flowing waters once more. How trivial its flux seemed in comparison to the swirling tides that had carried his friend away before his eyes caught sight of him. "Oh Aragorn, are you really gone?" He breathed softly to himself. "Surely I would feel it, know it inside of me...but I feel naught, my heart is like stone, would it not burst with sorrow having known your life was extinguished? Though my mind tells me thus is so, my heart denies it. Would I not feel it if you were lost to me irrevocably?"

Sinking down upon the cool buttress below him, its rock hardness offered little comfort, and he yearned for the solace and calm of his homeland. He was at one with the earth and the woodlands that flourished there. If he was there, he might escape this heaviness that now penetrated his very heart and soul. But his mind would not permit him to escape the thoughts that prevailed and plagued it, and he allowed it to travel back to the brief confrontation with the warg riders.

The battle had been over, and those still standing were making their way among the fallen and dead to provide aid to those still in need of succor. It was then that Aragorn's absence was keenly noted. Legolas's eyes searched those around him coming up flat. "Aragorn?" He called out. His voice rose above the dismal landscape surrounding him. "Aragorn?" He beseeched again.

The desperate tone of his voice reached above the moans of the injured and the few final gurgles of those close to death. "Aragorn?" He shouted once more this time drawing the attentions of both Gimli and Theoden and those of another, a foul creature lying in the throes of death. Speaking first was the latter who exclaimed. "He's dead. Drug over the cliff he was."

"You lie." He challenged.

Gimli stood at his side and stared down upon the heinous being who had spoken these words eyeing him warily. "Speak the truth and I will ease your parting."

"The one you seek is dead, fallen." He repeated. "Drug over the embankment by a beast..." He cackled with a final contentment until it turned to a gurgle and the creature was no more, his body falling slack while his hand opened to reveal a glimmering ornament, so familiar to the eyes that gazed down upon it.

He had knelt to retrieve it as Gimli spoke its name in reverence, "The Evenstar." his heart falling heavily with the words. Surely his companion, Aragorn, would not part with such a treasure while he still drew breath. What the orc had proclaimed met with truth. His eyes moved from the foul creature and back to the elf at his side, who now held the beloved jewel in his hand.

Clasping his hand gently about it, Legolas moved toward the cliff that the orc had gestured to in his dying breath, and his eyes looked downward over the jagged decline and the swirling waters below. The carcass of a dead warg littered one of the shelves, but there was no body? Surely if he was dead, there would be some sign of it? "Aragorn?" He hailed loudly once more, hoping, entreating for an answering call. There was none. Could a human survive such a fall? His mind acknowledged that such a possibility was grim. At that moment he had felt a hand upon his shoulder. Turning he found Theoden, son of Thengel, beside him, his eyes full of empathy over the loss of a comrade so worthy in battle.

"We must go." He stated. Denial sprang quickly toward Legolas's lips, but Theoden did not allow him the chance at hesitation proclaiming resolutely to all around him. "Gather the wounded! Leave the dead!"

Legolas's heart burned within him in self recrimination. He had not taken the time to provide his friend with a fitting burial. Time was of the essence, but surely he should have searched for the body. "Aragorn, forgive me." He whispered and reached toward his cloak to withdraw the Evenstar once more, its cool smoothness spilling across his palm.

And what would he tell her he wondered? How could he explain to her the inadequacy of his actions surrounding Aragorn's final moments? And what of Elrohir and Elladan, who were as much as brothers to him as the one fallen? And Lord Elrond, his fostering father? How could he admit that he had failed the "hope" of men; the final "hope" for lasting peace? "Estel" He breathed while his throat tightened with this admission of guilt. Legolas dreaded the responsibility that now befell him for he knew how grievously those left behind would mourn for him, for it was just as deeply now that he finally allowed himself to do the same, and the first of many tears strayed down upon his cheeks, falling to wet the Evenstar.